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GSU starts SoCon slate with Wofford
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Junior Krista Tate, a 6-foot forward and guard, heads out on the court against Alabama in this November 19 file photo at Hanner Fieldhouse.

    It’s been a bumpy road, and the Georgia Southern Lady Eagles are still looking for answers.
    The Eagles (1-5) are in the middle of an eight-game road stretch, which got off to an 0-4 start.
    The good news is, a familiar face has stepped in to help out in the post game, arguably the biggest question mark for GSU entering the season. Krista Tate led the team in scoring in the loss to Arkansas State and the overtime loss at Akron, and has joined point guard Jamie Navarro (12.7 points per game) in double digits, averaging 11 points each time out. Tate has led the Eagles in scoring in three of the first six games.
    The bad news is, it hasn’t been enough.
    “What people are doing right now,” said GSU coach Rusty Cram, “they’re clamping down on our guards and saying, ‘If you’re going to beat us, it’s going to be in your post game.’ We haven’t been able to do that.”
    The youth on the team hasn’t had many opportunities in the early going. Freshman forward Danielle Spencer has been the biggest contributor off the bench in the post, averaging 15 minutes on the floor per game, but has 3.2 rebounds and only two points per contest. Redshirt freshman MiMi DuBose has contributed at the guard position, along with Meredyth Frye, Samantha Williams and RoRo Smith, but the struggles have come from scoring in the paint.
    “I liken it to football this year,” Cram said. “The kids, they lost some games they shouldn’t have, but they never quit working. They were in every ballgame. … The problem is, people understand our weaknesses. They’ve got tape on us now. The first  game or two, nobody knew what to expect. Now that you get a little bit of tape, they go right at your weaknesses.”
    Today, GSU gets its first Southern Conference test, as it continues the road trip at Wofford at 6 p.m. in Spartanburg, S.C. A win there could go a long way in restoring the team’s confidence.
    Wofford (2-4) has had its share of early struggles, too. In the non-conference portion of the young season, only Appalachian State (5-1), Samford (4-2) and Furman (3-2) have a winning record.
    “Right now, there is no top and bottom in the conference,” said Cram. “You’re just kind of getting the feel, and everybody’s schedules aren’t equal.”
    Cram hopes the Eagles can put the early struggles in the past and focus on the SoCon.
    “We’ve seen everything that people can throw at us, from full-court presses and very athletic teams to finesse teams with great shooters and post presence. We’ve seen it all, and the kids are growing every day with it,” he said. “They have to be focused and understand that we have to play for the conference tournament, and that’s what we have to prepare for. I’d much rather be 5-1. They’d rather be 5-1, but at some point, they’ve got to turn a corner, and they know that.”
    Cram feels that the Eagles can learn a lot about themselves today at Wofford, but based on the competition they’ve faced this season so far, that’s about it.
    “If we go into Wofford and play the same kind of game we played in the first six, it’s going to tell tale,” Cram said. “If we go in and we don’t take what we’ve learned and play hard-nosed and intense like we’ve been playing, if we think, 'Oh, well this is Wofford,’ it didn’t help us a bit. Whether or not it’s a measuring stick, I can’t tell you. But a win is a win, and that’s what we need. Any time you start the conference with a win, you’re sitting at the top.”

    Matt Yogus can be reached at (912) 489-9408.